4/8/15 Everything is Going to be Alright

When I wake before you I like when you roll over. You bring the blankets back to me, your unconscious self wanting to be close to me. When You have the blankets up around your neck and only your face is showing, your nose flares with your outward breath, your lips part too. Inside I can see the white of your teeth and the cracks in between which are only darkness. Then there is your hair, all let down and framing your face and your eyebrows so much like calligraphy lines swiped, meticulously onto a clean doll. The place where your nose stars–I am sure the doctors have a name for it, but I don’t–you know, right between your eyes scoops and swoops like sallow in spring time chasing bugs in the sky. Then there is your nose. Not jutting or protuberant, but certainly, yet inconspicuous. It is round and small and perfect. Back down to your lips below it, are pulled down in a small frown as if you are having a bad dream.

I want to kiss you. I want to hug you and hold you and tell you whatever causes that frown isn’t a problem. I want to wrap you up in my arms in a way that I’ve never wrapped anyone. I want the other night to have never happened. Because since it has it hasn’t been the same between us, even though I know it should. I know the truths of what we are doing. I know the truths of how I feel. And the way I feel is that I want to tell you you’ll never hurt again. Not when I’m with you. You’ll never feel the sting of rejection or the bite of spiteful words. I’ll never make you feel small or unworthy. And as long as you treat me as an equal, not someone you’re just keeping around, I’ll treat you the same. And if we can forget that night ever happened that you didn’t feel like you just needed to be alone, that you didn’t have time for me. If you didn’t keep looking out at the crowd and shaking your head as if you knew this wasn’t meant to be, and I hadn’t been upset you needed space from me, then maybe we could have avoided this whole thing. Maybe if I had decided that the distance was too great or that you had your own agenda that didn’t involve me–maybe if I had seen all those things I wouldn’t be typing this out. I wouldn’t have woke up beside you this morning wishing we lived closer. Because now the honeymoon is over and I’ve written you poetry and love letters and we’ve meditated in the hopes of understanding who we are together. And we did, for a little, but then we didn’t because who we weren’t who we had said. I’m selfish and hard and jaded from experiences I’ve had with other women in past relationships. I’m wary that this becomes something I’d not want. I’m afraid that we begin to work together we’d find we aren’t the right fit. But in truth, we know we are, or we know we can be. And I know you aren’t going anywhere and I know I’m not going anywhere. And tonight I’m going to do something special for you when you get home and everything is going to be alright–at least, I hope it will.

11/30/14

I stand at the door of Ricky’s parents house now. How many years later? Ten? Twelve? That little eye that is the doorbell watching me. It is a precursor to the eyes that will surely be on me once I ring it. I know the reaction I’m expected to give. I know I’m suppose to be shaken and scared and hurt and apologetic because I know Tommy is in there. But at the same time I’m back in Veronica’s house and Tommy is standing with that broken arm I gave him because I couldn’t blame myself for what had happened with Elizabeth and I couldn’t blame my mother for being. . . well, a terrible mother.

“You scare me, man,” said Tommy his brow creased under his shaggy blond hair. “You can’t treat people like this. Like a shield to—I don’t even know. I mean, last night,” he shifted the sheet that had been tied as a sling, “you wanted to hurt someone. It could have been anyone, but it was me. A friend.”

I looked at him, at Ricky, at Frank. Tommy was right. Last night I had wanted to hurt someone because I didn’t want to hurt. And because of this Elizabeth’s sorrow had done nothing for me. Standing there I tried to feel for Tommy and his arm, I tried to find it in myself to apologize. But I wasn’t sorry.

A cold hand crept around my heart. “I’m not sorry.”

I agreed with them all. It was what they wanted and I couldn’t pretend anymore. I couldn’t pretend that I cared about any of them. The act was getting too weary and so I let it drop.

All three of them were looking at me with a scared look in their eyes.

“We’re taking him to the hospital you asshole,” said Frank.

They were turning away and I didn’t want them to. If they walked through that door without me I knew I’d be alone. Really alone.

Then the words burst from my mouth, words I hadn’t meant to say, words I couldn’t hold in, “Get your jaw looked at while you’re there,” I called to Frank.

Frank turned around as though he might come right back to me. I set my feet and jaw in case he did. Ricky put an arm on his shoulder and whispered something in his ear.

“Fuck you,” spat Frank. “Just fuck you.”

And they left, slamming the door behind them.

I stood in the kitchen with the mess all around me and sipped my water. A movement came from the couch and Sally sat up, holding her head.

“Who’s slamming doors?” she asked.

“Nobody,” I told her. “Water?”

“Yes, please. Ugh. My head feels like it’s full of snakes.”

I smiled with half of my mouth, grabbed a clean looking glass off the counter and rinsed it, then filled it and walked over and handed it to Sally. Suddenly the act was back. Now that my friends were gone it seemed easy to fulfil expectations. Sally wouldn’t ask the difficult questions.

 

11/17/14

“That’s a lie,” I said.

Sally was looking at me, her small, tapered nose was like a rabbit’s and her eyes were a hazel I’d never noticed before. I’d never looked at her in the way I was now. Imploringly and defensively.

“Whatever you did to her,” said Sally. “Tore her up.”

“I didn’t do anything to her,” I lied. “She just wanted something I couldn’t do for her.”

“Tuck!” somebody shouted from behind me, in the marble countered kitchen.

I turned and Ricky through me a canned beer. “Shotguns!” he yelled and I was just fast enough to get my hand up and block the beer he had thrown and then tabbed it before it hit the ground.

“That was stupid, Ricky,” I said.

He was already grabbing a knife and slicing into his can at the bottom side, holding it at and angle.

He passed the knife to someone else who did the same with his bud lite, then handed the knife to me. I looked up for a moment a Sally. The knife was poised, tip pressed to metal as if the beer had a neck I was about to puncture. Her eyebrows were nearly tied together, her lips a single sad line. The thought of Elizabeth’s lie came back to me, despite my distraction. It made me angry. A pressure in my head, but also in my arms and tongue. It made me want to lash out not only at Elizabeth, but also at Sally for believing her.

“I’ve got nothing to say to either of you,” I said, and pressed down on my beer, creating a whole. “ONE, TWO, THREE!” I yelled and Ricky, the other guy, and I all popped the tops of our beers, through our heads back and chugged.

My brain was fuzzy. The cool spring air bit my skin. I’d shed my sweatshirt, but I’m unsure where I might have put it. I was standing by the keg when the castle started going up. Despite the forecast of rain some stars poked their heads through the breaks in the clouds.

People congregate around kegs more than a church or a grave, and I was pressed, arm to arm with Tommy and a tall girl I didn’t know. She had braces and I could hear her suck the saliva from them every so often. It made me want to gag. On the lawn an electronic air pump was running inflating the giant bouncy castle the seniors had brought. No idea where they might have got it.

I grabbed the hose and Tommy pumped as I filled. Yeah, a rookie mistake. But the beer came out fine.

“Yeah, I think Derek is coming back soon” said Tommy. “You know, to visit and stuff.”

My interest was intensified. “It’s been some years hasn’t it?”

“Yeah, he’s be at UCLA, you know.”

“No,” I said.

“Yeah. There and with his mom.”

I wondered if Tommy knew what kind of pain it would be Elizabeth in if she had to see Derek.